We’ve seen one of these buildings in a post a short while ago. That’s the building with the Aristocrat Cleaners and the Elite Café. We’re pretty certain it was designed by Thomas Fee as his own investment. To the north (on the left) the Siesta Rooms were built by T McWhinnie who hired Parr and Fee to design it and Peter Tardiff to construct it in 1910. It started life as the Harvard Hotel, with Langridge Furniture operating from the main floor. Thomas McWhinnie also owned the Columbia Hotel from the early 1900s and built the current building (that’s still standing) on Columbia Street in 1911.
In both the 1943 Vancouver Public Library picture, and today, the Vogue Theatre occupies the lot to the north (on the edge of the picture). It’s a late art deco design by Toronto-based Kaplan and Sprachman, dating from 1940. The Jewish Virtual Library says that Sprachman lived and worked in an almost exclusively Yiddish world, and most of his clients were Jews. That wasn’t true here – his patron was George C Reifel; brewer, reputed rum-runner and (according to the 1911 census) a Methodist. Ten years earlier the Reifel family had built the Commodore Ballroom on the block to the north.
To the south of the Elite Café were two single storey retail buildings, dating back to the early part of the 1900s. We haven’t traced a permit for their construction, there were two recorded in 1915 for repairs and alterations by two owners; G E Boughton and Powers & Broughtton, (sic) who were listed as agents. The clerk on the second permit was obviously feeling the need to add superfluous letters – Mr Boughton was the owner.
Over the years many businesses set up and closed here. In this 1943 image the La Salle Shoe Repair store was next to the Little Saratoga coffee shop (owned by Alex Constabaris) and the La Salle barbers. The shoe repair was run by C E Westlake, while the shoe repairer was C D Peterson. The La Salle Lunch was on the opposite side of the street. The Constabaris family were grieving a wartime tragedy; Alex and Helen’s son, James, was piloting a Lockheed Hudson III patrol bomber from Newfoundland for delivery to Britain in 1942 when the plane crashed at sea. His body was eventually recovered, and he was buried in Ireland. A lawyer, he received the Governors Gold medal when studying at the University of Alberta in 1938.
Today the Siesta Rooms are a Single Room Occupancy hotel, with the Roxy nightclub downstairs. Next door are two recent buildings, both designed by Studio One Architecture for Bonnis Properties.